Hidden Treasures – Liverpool Echo, 1951
I’m happy to hold, read and buy any old Victorian book, really. I’m quite a visual, tangible person in general – I can’t concentrate very well on audio books and need to see the words on the page to really get into a story. I never much liked Jackanory as a child because of that (apart from Rik Mayall’s one obviously). And I’m the same with history. I’ve read so many history books (well, I do have a history degree) but seeing an old building, reading an old book, holding a piece of ephemera that has survived against the odds – they’re what brings the past to life to me.
So, when I found this 1889 book, Charles Stuart Calverley’s Fly Leaves, in a charity shop, I was interested at first purely because of its age. But I bought it mainly because, flicking through, I found that a torn page of a Liverpool Echo from 1951 had been used as a bookmark. And I really wanted to read that page. Any newspaper given time is fascinating. The most commonplace of things, the events, the layout, the adverts (especially the adverts) suddenly represents a time in a way you don’t realise while it’s your present.
Fly Leaves itself wasn’t especially interesting to me. Or at least it wasn’t until years later, when I found an appendix at the end with a spoof Charles Dickens exam on The Pickwick Papers which really made me laugh. With questions such as naming all the component parts of a dog’s nose and deducing Mr Pickwick’s maximum speed:
But the Echo was fascinating. It’s the front page, folded up for 60 years.
Along with a strangely high number of adverts for Private Detective agencies, here are some highlights from the so-very-closely printed page.
“What colour did you say you wanted your crease-resisting chiffon velvet gown, Mrs Clarkson?”
An advert to remove hair, moles and veins by Myra Howell’s diathermy techniques. She was a long standing presence in Bold Street – I’ve also seen adverts of hers from 1919. (An interesting side note – medical diathermy machines were used in the UK in the Second World War to jam German radio beams used for nighttime bombing raids in what was called “The Battle of the Beams”)
An advert for E Rex Makin’s Solicitors, that must surely have been newly set up in 1951, seeing as he’s still going, and I saw him in town not too long ago. A slightly legendary figure in Liverpool life, he is. Not only has his firm been going a very long time, but he was Brian Epstein’s solicitor and involved in setting up the Beatles contract with him. Plus, he’s supposed to have invented the word “Beatlemania”.
“Wednesday night is Landing Craft Night”
I love this advert – a wallpaper company gegging in on an upcoming General Election.